Mainstream wine pairings typically have a strong focus on animal-based products like meats and cheeses.
Traditionally, wine pairing rules dictate red wine with red meat, white wine with lighter meats or fish, and more nuanced recommendations for cheese depending on flavor profiles.
While this logic is helpful if you eat animal-based products, vegetarians and vegans are often left without the guidance they need to bring out the best in their meals.
That’s exactly why I created Plant & Vine, a plant-based recipe and wine pairing blog.
As a vegan and a wine lover, I’m all about bringing plant-based perspectives to life through creative pairings. So let’s dive into the wild and wondrous world of vegan wine.
We’ll learn what it is, where to find it, and how to pair vegan food with it.
Five Tips for Pairing Wines with Vegan Food
- Match the weight of the wine to the weight of the dish: In other words, don’t pair a Cabernet Sauvignon with a salad. A steely Chablis or a vegetal Sauvignon Blanc will better do the trick for light, greens-focused meals.
- Match simple with simple, and great with great: Quickly throwing together a vegetable bowl on a weeknight after work? Grab a simple, easy-drinking wine. Having lots of friends over to celebrate a big occasion? Now’s the time to bust out that fancy Champagne you’ve been cellaring.
- Pair wines and foods by wine region: Grapes that grow in a particular region tend to pair well with foods of that same region. So when you’re thinking of French food, French wines are a natural fit. If you’re making a Moroccan chickpea stew and can’t recall any Moroccan wines off the top of your head, think about other areas with the same climates – Mediterranean and warm. Southern Italian wines are a great bet.
- Acidity is key: Tannic reds and light- to medium-bodied white wines with high acid are the most dependable grape varietals for food pairing. Super sweet, low acid, and fruitier wines are typically challenging.
What are Vegan Wines?
Here’s the simple answer. Vegan wine:
(1) hasn’t been fined using an animal-based fining agent, or
(2) has been allowed to self-clarify over a longer period of time.
All wine has the potential to be vegan if the winemaker elects to use a vegan-friendly fining agent.
Unfortunately, that’s not a common decision, which leads us to a few common FAQs questions:
Can vegans drink wine?
Don’t fear! Vegans and vegetarians can absolutely drink wine.
Strict vegans drink only vegan wine while other folks (like myself) follow a mostly plant-based diet and will drink non-vegan wine on occasion. Simply put, it’s a personal choice about what works for you. My choice to follow a plant-based diet is based on health.
For me, it’s important to not let diet be a source of stress, so I largely eat vegan food and occasionally drink non-vegan wines. I also respect others’ choices about how to engage with this decision, since it’s ultimately a personal one.
How is wine not vegan?
Modern wine consumers like clear and bright wine.
To achieve that characteristic, wine needs time to either self-stabilize and clarify naturally before going to market, or it needs to be“fined” to remove any residual hazy particles. Most winemakers prefer to ship their product to market sooner to make sufficient cash flow and keep their winery running, so fining agents are often used. These fining agents often contain animal products which is where a wine loses vegetarian or vegan status.
What animal products are used in the wine-making process?
The style of wine being produced often dictates the type of fining agent used. Additionally, historical trends or local regulations can also determine how wine is produced and prepared for market.
Potential animal products in wine include:
- Casein: milk protein
- Albumin: egg whites
- Gelatin: protein derived from animal hides and bones
- Isinglass: protein derived from swim bladders of sturgeon fish
- Protease (Trypsin): protein derived from pig or cow pancreas
- Protease (Pepsin): protein derived from pig or cow stomachs
- Chitosan: carbohydrate derived from crustacean shells.
Are there any animal products in wine?
After the wines are fined and clarified, they’re typically filtered again to remove the remaining particles.
You can think of fining agents like magnets – they attract the excess proteins and rough tannins, which clump around them, creating even larger molecules. These can then be more easily filtered out of the wine. So, even if wine is fined using an animal-based product, it’s likely that the majority of the animal-based products are removed before bottling.
However, some can still remain, and that ambiguity is not a risk that everyone is willing to take.
What brands of wine are vegan?
Now that we’ve learned the background of vegan wine, let’s discuss how to get your hands on some bottles!
Vegan wine producers are becoming more and more common, as more consumers request vegan-friendly products. Frey Vineyards, based in Mendocino County, California is an excellent example. Their wines are vegan, organic wines, biodynamic, and produced without any added sulfites in the wine or synthetic preservatives. La Crema, based in Sonoma, California, is another mainstream producer with an impressive variety of vegan wines.
The best resource for sourcing vegan wines is Barnivore, an online database with over 43,000 entries that bring vegan wine, beer, and liquor options to life. It’s an invaluable resource in the quest to drink vegan wine.
Let’s dive into a few popular brands to better understand the world of vegan wines:
Is Barefoot Wine vegan friendly?
Budget friendly, but not vegan-friendly.
Is Cupcake wine vegan?
Cupcakes Vineyards wines are delicious, but, sadly, Cupcake wines are not vegan.
Is Blossom Hill wine vegan?
Some Blossom Hill wines are vegan such as the Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Others, such as the Grenache and Pinot Grigio, are not.
Is Hardys wine vegan?
No. According to the company, “fining agents, such as Isinglass, egg, skim milk powder and gelatin are used in the winemaking process and can vary from vintage to vintage.”
Is Jacob’s Creek wine vegan?
Jacob’s Creek non-organic wine is not suitable for vegans. However, their EVG – Earth Vine Grape is don’t contain any traces of milk, egg or gelatin, so everyone can enjoy.
Is Yellow Tail red wine vegan?
Interested in learning more about vegan wine?
Check out Plant & Vine for a wine pairing with every vegan recipe and wine pairing tips that you can use at your upcoming dinner party.
About our Guest, Kerrie:
Kerrie is a photographer, wine nerd, and lifelong learner. She recently passed her Wine Spirit Education Trust Level III exam and looks forward to future wine classes.
She has never been satisfied with following a recipe word-for-word and prefers the surprises that emerge when veering from suggestion, in life and in cooking.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, Kerrie began experimenting with a plant-based diet and hasn’t looked back since. Plant & Vine combines two things she loves – vegan food and wine, and the stories that tie everything together.
Related Read: Vegan Wines & Sulfites in Wines
Here you will find a list of all the vegan wines we’ve tasted and reviewed on this blog.
And find below a link to an article explaining the key facts you should know about sulfites in your wine: